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Home-brew clubhouse gone wild

Division 23 goes pro and gets colorful in Beeramar

Shuffleboard, sofas, TVs, and beer-keg sconces lend to the clubhouse vibe.
Shuffleboard, sofas, TVs, and beer-keg sconces lend to the clubhouse vibe.
Place

Division 23 Brewing

7408 Trade Street, San Diego

Of the ten breweries currently operating in Miramar, most chose the location for affordable rents and compatible zoning. Division 23 co-founders Allen Hampton and Kellen Smith started brewing at their Trade Street address out of convenience — they already worked there. Before opening their tasting room to the public on May 16, it was just some extra space attached to their offices. "Our core business is upstairs," Hampton says. "We had this warehouse space and we brought in some home-brew equipment and we were brewing in here with a lot of friends and family."

That was three years ago. "We hadn't really intended to open to the public," Hampton continues. “We were just building a kind of clubhouse for ourselves."

So many people started showing up that the beer they'd worked ten hours to brew would be gone in two. They wanted to make more beer but knew scaling up without commercial brewing experience would result in more headaches than success. Right around that time, they met Kevin Dougherty.

Dougherty had just come off stints brewing for Widmer Brothers and Bear Republic, or, as Smith points out, "He's worked in huge production facilities that make good beer." Dougherty's understanding of the process required of professional brewers emboldened Hampton and Smith to join the boom that's earned Miramar the nickname “Beeramar." They hired him as head brewer and committed to going public.

The first issue they faced was scaling up their recipes, particularly sourcing the right hops. Smith says, "We're at such a small scale in comparison to production brewers, our hops are kind of harder to come by."

"People buy hops futures nowadays," Dougherty explains. "Say you take a beer like [Ballast Point's] Sculpin. It's got, what? Thirteen, fourteen different kinds of hops in it? They've gotta make sure that beer's going to taste identical today as it will four years from now."

So, larger, established breweries already own a majority of popular hops, such as Amarillo, making it tough for a nano like Division 23 to scale up the recipe for their Bitter Foreman IPA.

Dougherty adapted a recipe he calls "pretty dang close" to the original, which he describes as "a very classic IPA, like one you would have had five years ago."

In the process of testing different hops, the three worked together to spin off a second IPA they call Freight Damage, a dry-hopped number with more delicate floral notes, at least in its current rendering. Dougherty says he plans to let this IPA evolve over time as different hops become available, planning to source "what's new and crazy and what I can get, and kind of just have fun with it."

Division 23 went wilder than Germany with the syrups.

The tasting room meets their clubhouse aims, featuring couches, TV screens, games, and lighting fixtures crafted from small kegs, including, as Hampton calls them, "The manliest sconces you'll ever see." It's not just a man cave, though, as evidenced by a lineup of beers catering to a wide range of tastes, and a rank of colorful fruit syrups atop the bar. These are meant to flavor their crisp Berliner Weiss, dubbed Sour Superintendent, in a manner consistent with the beer's origins.

"Traditionally, that's how they do it in Germany," says Dougherty. "They serve it with either raspberry or woodruff, and we kind of took that and went wild with it." Wild to the tune of nine different syrups, resulting in colorful taster flights unlike any other in town.

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Shuffleboard, sofas, TVs, and beer-keg sconces lend to the clubhouse vibe.
Shuffleboard, sofas, TVs, and beer-keg sconces lend to the clubhouse vibe.
Place

Division 23 Brewing

7408 Trade Street, San Diego

Of the ten breweries currently operating in Miramar, most chose the location for affordable rents and compatible zoning. Division 23 co-founders Allen Hampton and Kellen Smith started brewing at their Trade Street address out of convenience — they already worked there. Before opening their tasting room to the public on May 16, it was just some extra space attached to their offices. "Our core business is upstairs," Hampton says. "We had this warehouse space and we brought in some home-brew equipment and we were brewing in here with a lot of friends and family."

That was three years ago. "We hadn't really intended to open to the public," Hampton continues. “We were just building a kind of clubhouse for ourselves."

So many people started showing up that the beer they'd worked ten hours to brew would be gone in two. They wanted to make more beer but knew scaling up without commercial brewing experience would result in more headaches than success. Right around that time, they met Kevin Dougherty.

Dougherty had just come off stints brewing for Widmer Brothers and Bear Republic, or, as Smith points out, "He's worked in huge production facilities that make good beer." Dougherty's understanding of the process required of professional brewers emboldened Hampton and Smith to join the boom that's earned Miramar the nickname “Beeramar." They hired him as head brewer and committed to going public.

The first issue they faced was scaling up their recipes, particularly sourcing the right hops. Smith says, "We're at such a small scale in comparison to production brewers, our hops are kind of harder to come by."

"People buy hops futures nowadays," Dougherty explains. "Say you take a beer like [Ballast Point's] Sculpin. It's got, what? Thirteen, fourteen different kinds of hops in it? They've gotta make sure that beer's going to taste identical today as it will four years from now."

So, larger, established breweries already own a majority of popular hops, such as Amarillo, making it tough for a nano like Division 23 to scale up the recipe for their Bitter Foreman IPA.

Dougherty adapted a recipe he calls "pretty dang close" to the original, which he describes as "a very classic IPA, like one you would have had five years ago."

In the process of testing different hops, the three worked together to spin off a second IPA they call Freight Damage, a dry-hopped number with more delicate floral notes, at least in its current rendering. Dougherty says he plans to let this IPA evolve over time as different hops become available, planning to source "what's new and crazy and what I can get, and kind of just have fun with it."

Division 23 went wilder than Germany with the syrups.

The tasting room meets their clubhouse aims, featuring couches, TV screens, games, and lighting fixtures crafted from small kegs, including, as Hampton calls them, "The manliest sconces you'll ever see." It's not just a man cave, though, as evidenced by a lineup of beers catering to a wide range of tastes, and a rank of colorful fruit syrups atop the bar. These are meant to flavor their crisp Berliner Weiss, dubbed Sour Superintendent, in a manner consistent with the beer's origins.

"Traditionally, that's how they do it in Germany," says Dougherty. "They serve it with either raspberry or woodruff, and we kind of took that and went wild with it." Wild to the tune of nine different syrups, resulting in colorful taster flights unlike any other in town.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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